Seasonal Allergies

-Toni Sicola, Executive Editor, Health and Wellness Professional

It’s that time of year when everything is blooming — especially here in California. They say that the longer you live in this great state (which produces the majority of fruits and veggies for the entire country and has a plethora of pollen-producing plants year-round), the greater your chances are of acquiring seasonal allergies. I’ve only lived in California for about 4 years, so I haven’t “caught” allergies yet, but I know that there are a ton of folks (both in and out of California) who are in full-blown allergy mode and reaching for the Claritin and Allegra right about now.

The problem is that sometimes those meds just aren’t enough. So what can you do to stave off allergies before breaking the bank with expensive allergy shots and prescription meds?

Often people are told to limit their outdoor exposure, ride in the car with the windows rolled up, use air conditioners instead of opening a window at home, and generally avoid their allergen. That’s all good advice, but in one of the most beautiful seasons of the year, who wants to stay inside and miss it??

Here are a few suggestions for taking control of your seasonal allergies:

  1. Find local, raw honey, and start eating. (a couple of teaspoons a day) Allergies are triggered by repeated exposure to the same elements in the environment (or in your food for that matter)– something that might not be an allergy today could eventually become one with repeated or daily exposure. Eating raw honey that has been made from pollen that you encounter on a regular basis, like a tree in your yard or in the parking lot at work (local), has been shown to equip your immune system to deal with it — sort of like a vaccine. Here is one great source to learn more about how honey works to ward off allergies. Here’s another. For more benefits of raw honey, check out our blog on sweets and this article at Livestrong.
  2. Consider a Quercetin-Bromelain combination supplement. Quercetin, a bioflavonoid naturally occurring in foods like onions and apples, is able to inhibit allergy and inflammatory responses by inhibiting the release of antibodies which cause histamine to be released (source). Bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapples, aids in the absorption of quercetin, in addition to providing its own inflammation inhibitors. When used together, these two constituents enhance each others’ effectiveness (source).
  3. Try Stinging Nettles (freeze-dried in capsules). You can also make it into a tea, if you can stand the taste. Stinging nettles, a common weed in many parts of the US, inhibit the body’s ability to create histamines. It’s a great alternative to something like Benadryl, which can make you drowsy and foggy (source).
  4. Clear it out with a NetiPot. This age-old Indian remedy is a way to physically get the pollen out of your nose and sinuses with salt water (noniodized salt), and works well if you have a common cold as well. It might take a few tries to get it right, but once you get the angle right, you’ll fall in love with its benefits. Using a netipot twice a day is a great way to keep your sinuses clear of allergens. A word of caution though: netipots must be cleaned thoroughly and disinfected after every use. Do not use a plastic netipot, as it’s harder to sanitize. You should also use purified water, not plain tap. Find out more here.

After trying one, some, or all of these remedies, I hope that you find some relief and can get outside and enjoy this time of year.

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